Europe is a diverse place with a number of languages and cultures. Despite knowing and understanding the differences, we still have some confusion in communication. One of the aspects I want to discuss is greeting people from other countries. The reason is that greetings caused many awkward moments equally for me and my conversation partners.
It is easy in formal situations because we keep some distance and follow the definite pattern. It is also not an issue when we greet a good friend of ours from another country. The trouble starts when our conversation partner is in ‘in-between’ zone. This means that we already passed the ‘formal’ threshold, but we still did not rich the friend zone.
I call this category ‘friends-in-trouble’. It is connected to the awkward moments which arise during communication, starting from greetings. Being culturally diverse, I feel that my knowledge rather hurts than helps in this particular case. I know that in some countries people shake hands, in some – hug, in some – kiss, and there are countries where people formally say ‘hi’.
The confusion goes to a new level because my conversation partners are also culturally aware people, who are nice and respecting. What on earth should we do? Should we greet each other like people do in Russia (as I am Russian)? Should we greet like people do in the country from which my conversation partner is? Or should we greet as people in Finland because I live there almost for 10 years? What if she/he also lives in the foreign for her/him country? And the worst case scenario – we meet in the fifth country (e.g. vacation/conference). Should we greet like people do there?
“She’s overthinking”, this is probably in your mind right now. Then, you have probably never offered the hand to shake when your conversation partner tried to kiss you in cheek. You have probably never tried to hug the person when she/he just said formal ‘hello’. Trust me it is embarrassing, very embarrassing… I am sure my friends-in-trouble feel the same way.
What do you think about it? Have you ever faced this problem?